Sequel to The Eight of Swords – The Putsi

The Putsi

If you have something special belonging to someone else, what happens when they want it back?

 Eighteen years have passed since a family of Romanian gypsies invaded Jayne Patchett’s house.  In that time her life has changed remarkably, she is a successful artist, happily in love, living in an idyllic country cottage.  But all those years ago, one of the gypsies gave her a lucky pouch, the putsi.  Now, one of them wants it back.  Drama returns to Jayne’s life as secrets are unveiled and she begins to wonder who she can trust. 

Available as a short story ebook via Amazon & Smashwords

Cover Story

 I recently listened to a Barnes & Noble One on One Author interview with Chip Kidd who is the associate art director at Knopf an imprint of Random House.  In the first half of the interview he talks about a book he has written and later on he talks about cover design and advertising.

 I had never heard of Chip Kidd before this interview.  When seeking out author interviews I have to admit I was at first curious because he shares my surname.  Upon finding out he is a well-respected cover designer my interest was piqued further.

 Always having had an interest in art and design, I particularly appreciate a fine cover when I see one.  The whole marketing process fascinates me and cover design is an integral part of that. 

 The obvious question was asked during the interview ‘does cover design sell a book?’  This is a question I was asking myself not so long ago as I published my first Ebook The Eight of Swords.  The temptation was to launch into designing the cover myself.  I am more than happy to browse photo libraries for hours to find the right image for my blog so why would it be any different for my book cover?  As luck would have it a designer offered to do it for me.  In fact he relished the opportunity and I was delighted by his enthusiasm.  If I had done it myself I might well have spent a long time agonising over images and working out how to create the finished product in a professional looking manner.  In truth, I doubt I would have had any more satisfaction doing it myself than letting him do it for me.  Also the time I spent trying to do it could be spent writing!

 The finished cover design for my Ebook was far different to anything I imagined and far exceeded my expectations. It perfectly fits with the story – dramatic and mysterious.  Also it looks great as a thumbnail image, which can be quite a challenge.

 Back to the question ‘does cover design sell a book?’  Well Chip’s answer pretty much came as I expected, in the negative.  He believed as I do, it’s the subject matter, the blurb on the back and the reviews that sell the book.  I only believe this based on how I buy books.  I do like to see a stylish cover in ‘come and get me’ colours with an intriguing image and cool font design but when browsing a bookshelf or Amazon it’s the author credentials and story that sell me the book.  I will check out the reviews and if they are well above average on the low stars I may well pass it by but I don’t take too much stock of them because hey, everyone is an individual and even more so when it comes to being attracted by reading material. 

 Having said all that, a poorly designed cover can be a real turn off.  Psychologically we want to be attracted and feel that we are valued enough for someone to make an effort to draw us in.  I know that if one of my favourite authors published a book with a tacky cover I would be disappointed and to be perfectly honest really quite shocked.  However, being one of my favoured authors, if I liked the sound of the story I would disregard the cover.

In truth when I am browsing for books and see an author I don’t know with a cover design that looks pretty atrocious it is very off putting to say the least.  If they didn’t make the effort with the cover design, how much effort did they put into the story?  It’s superficial but it is hard not to make assumptions.  Us humans usually judge first on appearance whether it is right or wrong. 

 As with my business, I am a great believer in display and making an effort for the customer.  After all without the customer there would be no business and it’s the same with readers, I want them to feel they are getting something great on the outside and within, a totally finished product.

 The Eight of Swords is available to buy to download at Amazon and Smashwords.

 Check out Chip Kidd’s podcast at Barnes & Noble here.

 http://media.barnesandnoble.com/?fr_story=6ca2b600632093d8f9cf1dc8a6852a70aeb4d98b&rf=sitemap

 And his cover designs here:

http://bookcoverarchive.com/Chip_Kidd

 

 

 

 

 

The Eight of Swords by Petra Kidd – Excerpt

When a big event happens in the world, people usually remember what they were doing, where they were, who they were with, how old they were when it happened.  For many years to come, they will say, “oh yes, when the planes hit the towers, I had just arrived in Cuba for my first holiday in two years,” or “when the Queen Mother’s death was announced, the entire family were here for lunch, including Aunty Martha who we hadn’t seen since Uncle Stephen passed away.”  All the little details of the moment they heard something terrible or significant happened come flooding into their mind.

 It is the same with more personal events. Happenings, that in a single moment of now then permeate our thoughts and memories forever after.  The day I came home to find my key wouldn’t turn in the lock, my head was full of how one of my colleagues had committed suicide, messily, under a tube train during rush hour.  I can’t tell you that I had any gut feeling or intuition that day would become such a significant turning point in my life. It started like any other, my alarm went off, I pressed the ten minute snooze option, shut my eyes tight and hoped each minute would become an hour in real time.  Of course this is impossible but when you hate your work, every little delay in getting there becomes a mini freedom. 

 I can even remember the dream I had before I woke up. It involved a tea party in the middle of a field with buttercups and dandelions, a voice said ‘don’t pick the dandelions or you will wee in your bed.’  I often wonder if that somehow signalled the events of the day and why if it did, did I get such a pointless and unhelpful warning?

 I stood on the doorstep for a full ten minutes before my poor befuddled brain would take in the fact my key no longer fitted this lock.  Stepping back I inspected the house to make sure that in my confused and distracted state I hadn’t mistaken someone else’s house for my own but no, the door remained red with a brass knocker in the shape of a mermaid, weeds had grown over the air vent, and rain dripped in a reluctant waterfall from the guttering.  No, this was definitely my abode of the past eight years, the place I bought after my second divorce vowing I would never again share my home, my heart, my possessions with another person. 

 Stepping back I glanced at my watch, I don’t know why.  Every evening I walked home from work, setting out from my office around sixish whatever the weather, regardless of time of year. I trudged through snow, battled wind, rain and hail, slid around on ice, squinted through fog and wore a ridiculously large hat to keep the rarely sighted sun of recent summers off my pale skinned face.  Somehow, I seemed to think the time might give me the answer as to why my key wouldn’t fit the lock.  Then I caught sight out of the corner of my eye, the curtain twitch open a second. It fell back again instantly. 

 Did I imagine that?  I thought, standing there stupidly as rainwater soaked my shoulders.  I leant over and tapped on the window.  Nothing happened.  The curtain didn’t move again.  It occurred to me at this point that perhaps I should try using my back door key.  I fumbled to pick it out among all the other keys on the ring: keys to my desk drawers at work, the shed key, my elderly neighbour’s key, a bicycle lock key I had ceased to use many moons ago. I began to walk round the right side of the house, across the tiny front garden, through the side gate and along the muddy path to the back door.  Again I inserted the key into the lock, tried to turn it and it did not budge.  I managed to stop myself from hammering on the frosted glass window of the door. How ridiculous would that be?  Knocking on my own door to be let into the house where only I lived.  On examination the lock looked shinier than my normal rusty edged lock, brand new in fact.  My heart jigged a little, in a downward way, my legs weakened and my stomach did a back flip, panic had finally set in. 

 I put the keys in my coat pocket and walked slowly back to the front of the house, pondering the situation.  Back at the front door I reached up and grasped the mermaid knocker firmly and thumped brass against brass three times.  Nothing happened.  I inspected the lock; again it appeared to be shiny and new.  A couple of deep scratches and a dent I didn’t recognise were next to it.  Someone had changed the locks. 

 I simply didn’t know what to do.  Bizarrely the thought ran through my mind that somehow my colleague had faked his death, come round, broken into my house and locked me out.  Why would he do that?  We hadn’t been particularly friendly, or not friendly. For the past year of his appointment to my team we exchanged personal pleasantries on an irregular basis, shared a filing cabinet, made each other the odd cup of tea and displayed only cursory interest in one another beyond our work.  A burglar wouldn’t have changed the locks. I had no family who would create such a prank. My parents lived abroad. My brother, a well off stockbroker lived happily in Surrey with his wife and two children. Extended family included only a very elderly aunt and a spinster cousin in Australia.  My friends and acquaintances were not of the type to do this either, they were for the most part professionals, reasonably well off, fully encompassed in their own complicated lives, far too busy and harassed to decide to break into my house, change the locks and then refuse to open the door.  They weren’t the kind of people who would think such an elaborate prank funny. 

Available to buy to download via Amazon Kindle.

To read on, click here The Eight of Swords 

A short story of circa 13k words

Copyright © 2012 Petra Kidd

 

So what would you do?

What would you do if you came home to find strangers sitting in your home as if it were their own? 

It’s not such a silly question.

Usually it is landlords that have problems with squatters when a property has been left empty awhile.  If someone gains entry without actually breaking an entry or causing damage  it’s not an easy task to get them to leave and you would have to apply for a court order.  This can take quite a number of weeks, if not months in some cases.

Terrible when you think about it, especially if it is your actual home.  Some more wealthy people are having to hire security guards to make sure their homes don’t get invaded while they are away.

So how would you react if you came home and found strangers occupying your space?

I had a small taster of what this would feel like many years ago.  I was in my late teens enjoying a holiday in France with my best friend.  We’d found a lovely youth hostel in La Rochelle and a couple of days into the holiday we hit the beach happy to lie around on it all morning without a care in the world. 

Around lunchtime we decided to head back to our room to get changed.  When I tried to open the door to our room I found it locked.  Suddenly the door opened and a very tall German lad stood grinning at me.  I checked up and down the corridor, this was definitely our room so I told him so.  Luckily he understood English.  He laughed “oh no, it is our room!”

I persisted arguing with him in a nonsensical way until he invited me in to see for myself that our belongings had totally vanished and in their place were rucksacks etc belonging to him and his friends.  His friends sat grinning at us, highly amused.

We weren’t amused at all, and somewhat confused we headed to reception and I let forth my best French swear words at the person behind the counter.  Immediately we were led to a cupboard where our belongings had been unceremoniously dumped!  Apparently they were going to move us to a smaller room but hadn’t expected us back so early. 

So I can identify a little with my main character Jayne Patchett in The Eight of Swords when she returns home to find her key won’t turn in the lock.  She lives alone so she knows something is seriously wrong when she can’t get in to her own house.  I remembered my confusion and exasperation well when I was writing about hers.  Of course her situation is far worse than mine was.

Probably the most amusing thing to come out of my brief experience of having my room invaded by strangers was my friend’s reaction to my sudden ability to swear so eloquently in French!  She was very impressed.

Jayne Patchett in The Eight of Swords has a much more interesting and difficult experience than mine and it goes to show you can’t always know how you will react in such a bizarre situation.

The Eight of Swords is available now on Amazon Kindle, it’s a short story. 

Click on the link below to buy.   If you don’t have a Kindle you can still download the ebook to your pc or another device.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Eight-of-Swords-ebook/dp/B006S1RWGA/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1325603687&sr=8-1